Sunday, 21 August 2011

It was a yoke - Week Four

I'll apologise in advance for the beginning of this weeks blog if I sound a little muddled, but I was rudely awoken this morning (I'll explain later) and therefore, didn't manage to sleep off the skin-full that I had last night so write this still a tad drunk.

            We started off the week in busy form; Lucy was up at the crack of dawn to appear on 'The Wright Stuff', plugging the show and revealing her husband's preening routines while the rest of us arrived at the theatre, on set to begin orienting ourselves. The set is quite simply terrific. As always, Victoria (the designer) has excelled herself - particularly on what is known as the dressing. i.e. the little bits and bobs that turn a good set into a believable set.  Pictures, magazines, home-embroidered cushions, stuffed dogs (you get it). And, it's not only the dressing, but the attention to detail that raises the bar too. Distressed wallpaper and grubby, ruddy-coloured couch covers all add to crank up the realism of the environment that we are trying to create.

            After the delight of seeing our set I was knocked down to earth by our dressing room allocations. It came to pass that I would be sharing with Alastair. This is bad. It's week four of the blog now and can no longer refrain from calling our director and producer by the name that I know him best; Cuckoo. 

My doodle of Al
It was a delightful surprise actually when I first started calling him by a birds name to find that his parents - Gill and Mole - have called him the same thing since childhood! Henceforth, Al shall be referred to as Cuckoo. Back to the point, sharing a dressing room with the Cuckoo is a bad thing. As I have previously said, Al is a dear friend of mine. One of my best friends in fact. However, this does not detract from the fact that he can be a colossal pain in the arse. Whereas I am a fairly tidy person, Al is not. His life spills into a room and occupies every single nook and cranny. Papers with audience numbers cower in the corners, costume and clothing litter the floors. It is a never-ending battle against the Emperor of Mess. A battle that I am sure to lose. Painfully. 

Guess where I sit?
In fact, traipsing around the back stage dressing room area is a bit like walking the length of a jumbo jet. Starting off in the economy seats with Myself and Al, passing Hazel the dog in business class and ending at the front of the plane with Bostrom and Speed. Lucy has flowers and cards, laden in abundance and Arthur jokes that his foot spa hasn't arrived yet. Thankfully they're both welcoming hosts and encourage the rest of us to take advantage of the extra room for chit chat time. Unfortunately one always has to return to ones seats for landing...

            In the evening, Sebastian had his first pint in a week (he says he's trying to shift a bit of weight) and sunk half of it in the first swallow. He said that he then went for a curry... If you're going to fall off the wagon, better to tumble off hey?

            We came back to the house and had a bottle of wine whilst watching a documentary about urban sports including Parkour. David and I were encouraged to try our hand at it too. So we did. I'm thinking of a career change.

            On Tuesday, it was all hands on deck. We were joined by a friend of Chris', Ed, who was helping out Pam with the ever-changing costume requirements. Jo was also back with us, trimming us all up with new hair-dos and instructing the girls on how to replicate her funicular creations. 
            After this, we began the technical rehearsal. I hesitate at calling it a technical rehearsal as I have never experienced one like it. We began at 6:00pm and finished before 9:00pm. Less than 3 hours. To put this into perspective, most techs bridge a couple of days. At the extreme, a mate of mine, James Loye (Frodo in the Lord of the Rings Musical) has regaled me of their 6 week tech period. 3 hours, therefore was nothing short of spectacular. And, it was all thanks to our technical team who spent the beginning part of the day walking the show and plotting the cues. Our tech was therefore, a near-dress rehearsal.
            Wednesday saw the return of the rat-tache. Chris had asked me (after much protestation on my part) to grow the caterpillar for the show. I reluctantly obliged and sported the lip-warmer for the day, only to be told, in the evening, that I could shave it off. I could have kissed Chris. I was so happy that I climbed over the pub table to hug him. He then told me that it had all been an elaborate joke.
            I was less amused.
            I reached for a fork to exact my pound of flesh.
            I am again clean-shaven.
            I am happy.
Jess, busy at work
            Before our first dress rehearsal, Allison returned for the final time to cement the fight choreography and leave us happy. I however, got increasingly frustrated. We repeated and repeated the fights and I, just seemed to get worse and worse. No matter how much encouragement Allison gave me, my stress levels went through the roof. By the end of my time with her I looked like a wet, red balloon. Her hard work has paid off though and we are left with a set of very secure routines, so, thank you Allison!
            We began Thursday with Notes, followed by our second dress rehearsal, which was - from what I remember - free from drama.  After our break, Lucy was encountered by our first Fraggle (autograph hunter) who gave her 5 books of self-penned poetry...
            The thing about the average Fraggle is that they do not come to watch the shows. They tend to be rather rude and on top of that, secrete mucous from every visible orifice. They are a people, best avoided. Though that is easier said than done.

            Fraggle gone, all that was left was the first show. The rain began to fall, audience numbers rose to the 500 mark and the excitement built. We wished one another luck. We crossed fingers, prayed to whichever Gods would listen and stood in the wings for the beginners call.

            The show was incredible. It may have been - as Chris later said - a little full of sound and fury, but it was far from insignificant. The aisles rolled with laughter and the air was charred with gasps of merriment, and, If heaven exists, then I am confident that it closely resembles a theatre full of squealing sounds of uproar. It was magical.
            After the show, the entire company went for a meal and celebrated in style. Wine flowed and smiles flourished. We were also lucky enough to be joined by Arthurs friend, the lovely Kim Hartman, along with a couple of friends of mine, Jamie Hinde and Ian Marr who both toured with the Original Theatre Company on the Madness of George III.
            After the waiters kicked us out, Rachel and I walked Lucy back to her hotel and caught a glimpse of her room - the most confusing suite that I've ever seen. The curtains - made of teddy bear fur, partnered marvelously with glittery wallpaper.  In fact, I find myself sat here still trying to work out what was going through the hotel manager's mind when concocting the room's design... I'm sure that Lucy is there now, thinking exactly the same thing.
Chris' 'unique' style of direction
            We arrived at the theatre on Friday for afternoon notes, followed by the evening show. Our general instruction had been to control the play again instead of having the foot flat down on the pedal all the way through. I think we achieved that. We listened and had (a very non-traditional) good second night.
            Lucy's husband, Spencer joined us after the show for a couple of drinks, as did Emily, Chris' girlfriend. Two terrific people. In fact, we prefer them. Lucy - you can go, we'll keep Spencer (he fits into your dresses right?), Chris - same goes.
            Saturday we had - dare I say it - an enjoyable matinee...? Yes, I think it was. Contrary to all the rules we actors must adhere to(hating matinee's being the unwritten golden goose), I enjoyed doing the matinee show.
            Do I lose my Equity card now?

Where's Wally?
            Emily, Spencer and Lucy's folks were in for the evening show which again was very enjoyable. I think that it's going to be one of those shows that won't get boring. There's just so much going on, it's impossible to get bored.
            After the pub we all went to Arthur's gaff for a night cap.
            And another.

            I was woken this morning by the nearby church bells being rung. They're not very good. Despite the annoyance of being woken early - they do need the practice. It sounds like a couple of pewter tankards are being knocked together. Over and over.
            Norwich just lost the lead in the 90th minute to Stoke.
            The week has subsequently been awful.

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